Offices, ranks and other titles
Place descriptors and types
Forms of possession and other rights
Measurement units
Diplomatic classification and other documentary terminology

Offices, ranks and other titles

actionarius – a fiscal agent or estate administrator, similar to an actor in Lombard laws. The title often appears in charters from the duchy of Spoleto and other Italian city-territories.

aldiaaldio – a dependant, often referring to a freed person. Usually found in Bavarian and Lombard charters.

centenarius – a minor public official, elected to lead an association for the maintenance of public order.

colonus – a dependant; a free person of low status who has been provided with a holding. Can also denote a manumitted person who has been entrusted to the protection of a lord or church, or a landholder owing fixed dues to a landowner.

conductor – an estate administrator.

curator – a legal executor.

curialis – a member of a municipal curia (city council).

decanus – a minor public official with policing duties.

defensor – sometimes a city official; also an ecclesiastical advocate or a lay person who manages an estate for a religious institution.

exercitalis – in Lombardy, a free man who is wealthy enough to perform military service for a public authority.

gastald – Latin gastaldius; a Lombard official involved in the administration of royal and ducal estates. In Spoleto and Benevento, often in charge of military, administrative and judicial affairs.

litus – a dependant of uncertain status (free or unfree); often a tenant owing labour services and/or rent.

magister – basic meaning ‘teacher’, but used in a variety of ways, including head of a group of unfree persons, head of a group of manorial tenants, local judge, manorial officer, skilled craftsman, builder, and provost.

maior – a head of a household, a rural administrator, or a court dignitary.

mazoscanus – title found in Lombard charters, possibly derived from maiorscarius, which refers to minor ducal officials charged with the administration of woods and uncultivated land.

missus – an envoy, often referring specifically to an agent sent by the king for a specific purpose.

nomenclator – a papal dignitary.

primicerius – sometimes a dignitary or chief notary of the imperial court or king’s chapel, but more often an ecclesiastical dignitary of a monastery, episcopal see or perhaps the papal court.

scabinus – in Francia, a landholder of local standing appointed by a count or missus to serve as a judgement-finder in court. The Carolingians introduced the office to Italy following the conquest of the Lombard kingdom in 774.

sculdahis – in Lombardy, a ducal or comital official.

tributarius – a dependant landholder owing tribute or tax of some sort.

vicarius – a title with a wide range of ecclesiastical and secular meanings, but generally denoting a representative of some sort; can refer to a pope, bishop, abbot or priest, but also to a royal officer or manorial agent.

vicedominus – a cleric of high rank, often a deputy of a bishop or abbot involved in the administration of church property.

vir clarissimus – a ‘very famous man’; an honorific for a person of high standing such as a duke or count.

vir devotus – a ‘devoted man’; a secular honorific for a notable person, similar to exercitalis (i.e. a free man able to join the army), but probably of higher status.

župan – a Slavic official, broadly similar to a count.

Place descriptors and types

casalis  normally a homestead or small farmstead, though often an unspecified complex of land and buildings.

colonia  a small holding belonging to a colonus (a free person or dependant of low status).

curtis  often indicating the one farmstead in an ensemble of jointly transacted properties that was used by the lord or donor himself (manor).

fundus  a locality: a hamlet, village or small township. Most commonly used in Italian charters.

gualdus (waldus) – forest, generally of fiscal origin.

hoba – often also huba; depending on source either denoting a farmstead, or only referring to actual farmlands.

mansus – sometimes also mansa; depending on source either denoting a farmstead, or only referring to that part of a farm on which people are living ("staying"), e.g. a farmhouse and the land it stands on, but excluding farmlands which may be listed separately as hoba.

marca – basic meaning 'boundary' or 'confines', but often used to describe either a locality ('in the place called X') or the circumscribed surroundings of a locality ('the land associated with/belonging to X').

massa – varied estates, generally indicating huge (both peopled and uninhabited) areas of land including arable lands, vines, woods and pastures. Much probably of fiscal origin, the term was also used for designating a specific territory, sometimes turning into a toponym.

pagus – a district or region. Historically, the term referred to the rural territory surrounding a civitas (city or large town). In the Carolingian period, it comes to denote a territorial unit controlled by a count, whence French pays or German Gau.

vicus – a settlement or village, but can also refer to an estate or a subdivision of a pagus.

villa – term commonly used north of the Alps in different ways, but normally referring to a rural homestead with appurtenances, an estate, a village or small township, or any kind of settlement outside a city or fortification.

Forms of possession and other rights

benefice  Latin beneficium; basic meaning 'favour' or 'good deed', but comes to denote land granted 'as a favour' in return for some kind of service rendered, or the return of usufructuary rights over a property to a donor who has given that property to an institution (land may thus be described as being held 'in benefice'). By the ninth century, beneficium could refer simply to the granted or leased property itself (i.e. 'a benefice'). Cf. precaria and usufruct.

census  a rent or tax owed by tenants and landholders to a landowner.

fisc  Latin fiscus; generally refers to the royal patrimony, or perhaps a particular royal estate or manor ('fiscal land').

immunity  a privilege granted by a king to a church or monastery permitting it certain legal and/or financial freedoms by exempting it from specified burdens, such as taxation, other dues, or the obligation to be answerable to royal representatives.

manumission  a formal act of releasing an unfree person from servitude.

mundiburdis – often also mundeburdium; a right of legal guardianship over individuals unable to protect themselves (e.g. widows, orphans, other minors).

mundium – in Lombard charters, refers to a wide range of rights held by a man over a woman or unfree person.

ninths and tenths – Latin nonae et decimae; a rent amounting to one-fifth of the produce of a property, payable by one who holds the land in benefice orprecaria to the landowner (normally a church or monastery).

spiritual benefits – used in the database to signal when a transaction was stated as being carried out for the good of the soul(s) of either the donor(s) or another individual(s), who is then recorded respectively as 'spiritual first-party beneficiary' and 'spiritual third-party beneficiary'. This includes transactions made for the remedy of one's sins.

precaria – a form of land tenure in Francia based on the principle of a donor being allowed to retain rights of usufruct for a fixed period of time over land s/he has granted to an ecclesiastical institution; from the Latin verb precari, 'to beg' or 'to pray' (so called because the granter entreated the recipient to return such rights). After the leaseback period ended (normally after the death of the granter), all rights over the land would in theory revert to the owning institution, although in practice the agreement was often renewed for the granter's successors. Land could thus be held 'in precaria', but the term was also used to signify a charter asserting such an arrangement, and eventually it came to refer to the land itself (i.e. 'a precarial estate'); cf. benefice.

usufruct – the right to use and derive profit from property which is held temporarily (usually in benefice or precaria). Often an individual will donate his/her property to an institution and request that s/he be allowed to retain usufructuary rights over the land.


mallus, mallus publicus – a meeting place for a local community where legal issues could be settled (thus often making it synonymous with tribunal or court).

perambulation – a formal survey of the legal boundaries of an area undertaken by physically walking around the area in question.

placitum – a term with a wide range of meanings, but which in the Carolingian period generally refers to an assembly, a public court case heard before an assembly, and by extension a document produced recording such a case (classified in the database as an agreement).

translation – a formal ceremony marking the relocation of saintly relics.

Measurement units

carrata – a cartload (often of hay).

diurnalis – also jurnalisiurnalis; a land measure of an area that could be ploughed in one day.

iugerum – also iugera; classically a Roman unit of land measure equivalent to 0.65 acres or 0.26 hectares. Used similarly to diurnalis to denote an area of land ploughable by one yoke of oxen in a day.

modius – classically, a dry measure (often of corn) similar to a peck, and by extension a land measure of an amount sown by one modius of corn.

Diplomatic classification and other documentary terminology

agreement – a document (such as a convenientia) recording a settlement of some sort (e.g. a dispute) rather than a transaction.

cartulary – a collection of charters: a book produced by a religious institution into which earlier charters have been copied for purposes of organisation and preservation.

charter – from the Latin carta; a general term for a legal document recording a transaction such as a donation, sale or exchange (which is then differentiated in the database by transaction type).

diploma – a charter issued by a ruler (normally a king, but also e.g. a duke or mayor of the palace).

inventory – a list of any kind, usually of properties and/or moveable possessions.

letter – the database includes letters which are not formally charters but contain information on transactions or are otherwise linked to charters (e.g. they are included in a cartulary).

mandate – any kind of official order.

notice – a document not concerned with a transaction or dispute directly, but which has been produced (usually at a later date) as a summary of some kind of earlier activity.

testament – a document concerned with the legal disposition of an estate.